“No taxation without representation!” Well, taxation with representation ain’t so hot either.
Associated Press reported yesterday afternoon that lots of Arkansans are kicking the smoking habit. This is great news for everyone except the folks who are lined up at the public trough for a share of the $80 million per year cigarette tax. Billed as a tax for a state-wide trauma system and medical school for northwest Arkansas, Gov. Beebe and his friends saw to it that at least $50 million per year would be spent on what some would call “pork” to expand a number of other government programs and services.
Everyone knows that tobacco taxes are a declining revenue stream because the number of smokers is declining every year. Most people didn’t have any qualms about putting the tax squeeze on the smokers. But where will the legislature find funding for all theses programs and services when the tobacco tax only generates half what it does today? Something tells me they would rather put a sales tax squeeze on the rest of us rather than trimming programs.
According to Associated Press, new state statistics show Arkansas’ adult smoking rate has dropped to 20.7 percent as of last year, though it remains higher than the national average. State officials say that nearly 100,000 people have stopped smoking since 2002. The new figures don’t reflect those who may have quit smoking since lawmakers passed a 54-cent per pack cigarette tax.
The state-wide trauma system could have been funded with little or no tax increase at all. But instead, we got a good dose of taxation with representation.